No Alphabet

By JOANNE DOMINIQUE DWYER

 

If not for the lust of women, there would be no alphabet.
Save for the breaking of traffic rules, there would be 
no Cubism; no fractured light scrutinized from subways
or kaleidoscopes in the tool belts of surveyors.
Save for the white shoes the busgirl wore,
there would be no cloud-colored shoe polish hardening
under the sink cabinet; no wet chalk streaking 
the sidewalk during the summer monsoons.
Save for the ravishing bruise stenciled across the man’s cheek,
there would be no hand-to-hand combat.
No 7-Eleven thieves with nylon stockings over their heads.
No trail marked with the shells of sunflower seeds 
from the church steeple to the strip bar.
If not for the tiny, expensively coiffed gray-haired wife,
the judge would never get out of bed.
Save for the lead saucepan of water in the dry grass,
there would be no means to quench our thirst.
If not for the napoleons and éclairs the busgirl pilfered 
from the walk-in cooler at the country club, 
she might not have been bulimic.
Save for the hearth rugs made from the skins of bears
placed in front of fireplaces lit with gas 
falsifying every sighting of fallen stars seen 
since the inception of love, there may never have 
been application of kohl around women’s eyes. 
If not for the avarice for heated seats and more legroom,
the average new car might not be weighing in 
at four thousand and nine pounds. 
And the stranger’s car might have weighed just enough less
that my son’s black and white wolf-dog Santo 
might not be dead and my son would not have the dog 
lying on snow in the back of his pickup, bringing it home to bury.
Save for a hollowed-out tree trunk, there would be
no place for the dead to reassemble their limbs. 
Save for a shovel, there might not be a heaven. 
No flowers thrown into prehistoric graves.
Save for the aura of light before a seizure,
there would be no steel girders 
to keep the sublime monsters 
from entering the atmosphere of earth.

 

[Purchase Issue 20 here.]

 

Joanne Dominique Dwyer resides in northern New Mexico. Her book of poems is Belle Laide. Her work has recently appeared in Best American Poetry 2019, The American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, The Florida Review, New Ohio Review and other publications. She is a recipient of a Rona Jaffe award, and, in addition to completing a manuscript of poems recently, she is currently working on her first novel.

No Alphabet

Related Posts

Deborah Lindsay Wiliams headshot and Issue 20 cover

Podcast: Deborah Lindsay Williams

DEBORAH LINDSAY WILLIAMS
Deborah Lindsay Williams speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “‘You Like to Have Some Cup of Tea?’ and Other Questions About Complicity and Place,” which appears in Issue 20 of The Common magazine.

Silvia Guerra

Translation: Moss on a Smooth Rock

SILVIA GUERRA
Nocturnally tied / The aquatic whistling pine / and the goldfinch in the garden / Over the dark torment / of being one Of being two / of loving // The waters / the swans. / The lagoon // The thin horizon / and shivering straw / At the sides of / the line...

Image of a goat on a cliff.

Trap Street

KAREN SKOLFIELD 
Twitch of the cartographer’s hand and a street / is born, macadam free, a tree-lined absence, / paved with nothing but a name. No sidewalks, / no chalk, no children’s voices, / a fence unlinked from its chains, / the cars unmoored, corn left to its rubble...